|© GREG NASH|
(PORTIONS OF THIS POST WERE PUBLISHED IN OCTOBER 2017)
There was a time in Jared Kushner's life when he could have turned away from the Dark Side.
That time might have been in 2005 when following an investigation by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, Kushner's billionaire father Charles pleaded guilty to 18 counts of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering, a charge arising from retaliating against his sister's husband, who was cooperating with Christie, by hiring a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, arranging to surreptitiously videotape their encounter and sending the tape to his sister.
That time might have been in 2006 when Kushner, who had flown to Alabama on many weekends for over a year to visit his father in a federal penitentiary, looked in the mirror at his tousle-haired self and realized he needed find a better way forward, perhaps by summoning the lessons he was taught at the Orthodox yeshiva he had attended in North Jersey.
That time might have been in 2007 when Kushner met and fell in love with an attractive young woman of means who shared his interest in real estate, later describing their first date as "the best deal we ever made!"
But Kushner not only did not turn away from the Dark Side, he embraced it with a vengeance as he became his father's biggest defender in loudly proclaiming that Christie had unfairly prosecuted him despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Eleven years on, Kushner has parlayed his now well-honed skills as a manipulator, blame shifter, liar and poster boy for nepotism for whom everything is about money, as well as marriage to that attractive young woman of means, into the ultimate deal -- an intimate working relationship with Donald Trump.
Kushner, in his position as head of the digital team of his father in-law's presidential campaign, may have been responsible for making sure that Russian hackers knew which voters to target with a sophisticated cyber onslaught of fake news in the Kremlin's successful effort to sabotage Hillary Clinton and hand the election to Daddy-O. He also popped up with an uncanny regularity at many of the meetings with the very Russians being investigated by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, including one where he proposed that a secret back channel be established for the then president-elect to communicate privately with the Kremlin.
Kushner, in his position as a White House senior advisor with a mandate to make China and Mideast policy despite his utter lack of experience, has joined the emoluments gravy train and advised his father-in-law on a range of important decisions, including appointing Michael Flynn despite his treasonous conduct and firing James Comey on specious grounds that serendipitously, if unintentionally, led to Mueller's appointment.
But now Kushner, whom CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin sardonically notes has a White House job only because he is in the "lucky sperm club," may have run out of luck.
His family real estate business is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy under a crushing debt load, making him even riper for manipulation and blackmail. He is locked in a struggle with Chief of Staff John Kelly, who following the Rob Porter scandal, has insisted that the dozens of White House officials operating under interim security clearances like Kushner give up access to highly classified information, and it probably is only a matter of time before Special Counsel Robert Mueller pounces on his sorry ass.
Kushner's security clearance has been pending for 13 months because he has not been straightforward about his contacts with businesses and foreign governments prior to Trump taking office. In fact, he has revised his security application multiple times as he keeps adding literally scores of contacts he misremembered, to use one of Dubya's favorite words. Nevertheless, he has still had access to closely guard information, including state secrets and the president's daily intelligence briefing.
Kelly, who already is on tenterhooks after being outted as a lying thug not unlike his boss after the Porter wife-beating debacle and other embarrassments, was likely to lose this particular battle, especially after Kushner and wife Ivanka (referred to as "Javanka" by Steve Bannon) reportedly stopped by Mar-a-Lago last weekend en route to Washington from a Caribbean getaway to badmouth the former Marine general as Trump considered whether to give Kelly the heave-ho while raging over Mueller's indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian companies.
But then The Washington Post rolled a grenade into Kelly's bivouac on Friday night, reporting that the Justice Department has informed the White House that unspecified "significant information" requiring additional investigation would further delay Kushner's security clearance process.
Kushner is now likely to be eased out, but if the prodigal son-in-law does prevail, consider this: A man in the crosshairs of the Russia scandal investigation -- which at its heart is a counterintelligence investigation -- is allowed continuing access to the nation's most sensitive intelligence.
In any event, Kushner is not likely to win a showdown with Mueller, and the recurring bouts of amnesia surrounding his security clearance, including his extensive contacts with Russians during the campaign and presidential transition, are of keen interest to the special counsel as he digs ever deeper into Russian interference in the election.
Kushner didn't even have the opportunity to wash that Caribbean sand from between his toesies when CNN reported that Mueller's interest in him has expanded to include his efforts to secure a half-billion dollar bailout from China and Qatar for a white elephant office building at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York that he bought for an inflated $1.8 billion at the height of the housing bubble but is now severely underwater.
Not coincidentally, Kushner leaned on Trump to support an Arab boycott of Qatar, which had turned down he and his father for the bailout, while the family business may be forced into bankruptcy next year if the building can't be refinanced. He has maintained a relationship with Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai that borders on the secretive because the two have met frequently without the government's top China specialists being present. The Chinese, in fact, call Kushner "their lucky charm," according to one counterintelligence official, because he is so compliant.
There are three prongs to Mueller's investigation -- Russia's efforts to interfere in the election, obstruction of justice and lying to thwart the investigation, and collateral financial crimes. Kushner is so mobbed up that he is, to my knowledge the only actor deeply involved in all three.
Except for Daddy-O.
Click HERE for a comprehensive and searchable timeline of the Russia scandal.